Guess What? Latinos Are Often Guilty Of Perpetuating White Supremacy And We Don’t Even Notice It
This past weekend, Americans watched in shock as “alt-right” members, neo-Nazis and white nationalists descended upon Charlottesville, Virginia, attempting to spread their message of hate and intolerance. Clashes between white nationalists and counter-protesters were numerous. One counter-protester, Heather Heyer, was killed when a man rammed his car into several counter-protesters. The man, 20-year-old James Alex Fields Jr., was later charged with second-degree murder. Earlier that day, he was photographed displaying the symbols of a white nationalist group called Vanguard America, which later denied he was a member.
That weekend journalist Shaun King posted a video of several men beating a 20-year-old man named Deandre Harris. King, who was attempting to confirm the identities of the men behind the beating, found that one of the men, Alex Michael Ramos, identifies as Latino. A group called the Atlanta Antifascists then tweeted that Ramos was affiliated with the Atlanta chapter of the far-right organization Proud Boys and the far-right militia called the Georgia Security Force.
In a Facebook live video that has since been deleted, Ramos claimed he wasn’t racist because he was Puerto Rican.
When a viewer asked why he marched with racists, Ramos said, “I stood by racist people but they weren’t racist to me.” Ramos’ assertion that his Puerto Rican roots meant he couldn’t be racist is a prime example of Latinos who are completely ignorant of their ability to perpetuate white supremacy.
Guess what? Latinos, both here and in Latin America, do and say plenty of things that promote anti-blackness — and most of the time we don’t even blink an eye when it happens. When it comes to discussing racism, we often subscribe to the black vs. white binary that we often see in the United States. If our views aren’t extreme, if we’re not a “full-blown racist,” then we’re completely absolved of perpetuating anti-blackness, right? Wrong. When we think like that, we tend to ignore the colorism — often subtle — that permeates through much of Latin America. It’s a difficult thing to confront, but if we don’t address it within our own community, we can’t expect it to magically resolve itself.
Pulitzer prize-winning Dominican-American author Junot Diaz once said, “White supremacy’s greatest trick is that it has convinced people that it exists always in other people, never in us.”
Don’t believe him?
Earlier this year, Carlos Hakas, the man who angrily knocked over an elotero’s cart in Los Angeles, exclaimed, “I’m not racist, I’m from Argentina!”
In 2015, Univision entertainment reporter Rodner Figueroa compared Michelle Obama to a cast member of “Planet of The Apes.”
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When he was fired over the comments, Figueroa wrote an open letter to Michelle Obama saying he isn’t racist because he comes from a bi-racial family.
What about last year, when Black Lives Matter was marching in the streets and you heard someone (maybe it was you) say, “Latinos need to fight for our causes, like immigration reform,” completely ignoring the fact that there are black Latinos?
It doesn’t just happen in the U.S. The idea that anti-blackness is only a thing perpetuated by “white Americans” is what leads a Mexican sports newspaper to make jokes like this one, literally days after a person died in Charlottesville:
Meanwhile, in Mexican print media… ?? pic.twitter.com/xwyW0QWfJc
— Laura Martínez® (@miblogestublog) August 17, 2017
Yes, Real Madrid are nicknamed “Los Blancos,” but the joke is clearly rooted in the idea that “white supremacy” is a problem “over there” in the U.S. and not in Mexico, where they released a stamp celebrating a cartoon character that is a racist stereotype.
Last year, Trilce Ortiz listed eight (out of many) ways that Latinos perpetuate anti-blackness.
Right now would be a good time for us to revisit that and not just stop there, but continue to educate ourselves on how we can make sure we’re not promoting white supremacy.